Thursday, January 26

the past

Reading about cricket seems always to be just round the corner for me. It is not for lack of interest, for I still think of myself as a cricket…well fan. Of the game, then of a team and players. Yet, I would also instinctively not call myself a cricketing illiterate by any stretch, though a fountain of information on it would be a bit much too.
I suppose, if one’s fingers are in pies (such as this blog) that are directly connected to cricket, it also makes sense for one to keep up to date with not only the present but some measure of the past.

How relevant this is for someone who skills lie on the field of play, is quite another thing. We can’t seriously expect a cricketer to be well versed with history, or at least not believe that it is required of him. I must say I was a bit staggered as well with Sehwag’s response. I even ventured to believe that “"No. I don't know anything about them. I haven't heard about them”, could merely mean he wasn’t thinking about Roy and Mankad vis-a vis the partnership he was involved in, but who am I kidding. Harsha Bhogle, for one, believes being scandalised loses out to pragmatism.

I suppose the fact that a leading cricketer is not even aware of a couple of the early heroes of the game in his country could be construed as shameless disregard for heritage. From an Aussie player, for one, I would be truly shocked to see such ignorance. In India though. I think a player’s background plays a huge role. We would expect a Dravid to be well versed with his cricket history- he is, for sure, inspired by it. But a typical Indian team is made up of such a motley bunch- the cultural background, the education, they way they are brought up… all point to unpredictable off-the field profiles of Indian cricketers.

Atherton’s absorbing piece on not bunking history draws this out:

It won't make him a better player, but it gives him a link with both the past and the future; it provides some context and some meaning, so that, long after the bones have stiffened and the eyes have gone, it still matters. He is simply one link in the chain.
I think another part of his piece mixes up the issue though. The tradition of a player number being stitched on to shirts and caps might not be widespread in the cricketing world, but is one that mostly draws approving nods. A sense of history, is what we say it provides. In saying the very England players who displayed a scant knowledge of their cricketing history are the ones who instigated this tradition, he figures that:
By instigating such a custom, today's players show a surreptitious interest in what went before them and, by inference, what will come after them.
For me, this is different from learning about your cricketing past to give context to your present. A player number is just that. It probably gives a sense of existence; a feeling that you are part of a honour-roll of a select few that have represented the country; more a sense of self than an awareness of context; you are a link in the chain, but with an identity.

But that’s just me. If you ask Sehwag about 239, he’ll probably just say it’s a low score for him.

> Vaneisa Baksh, to finish off her longish piece inspired by Lagaan, points young people in the game toward cricket literature. (hat tip: ryan)

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